Pink Champagne Cupcakes with Raspberry Swirl Buttercream

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Cakes / Fruit

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First off, let me provide my sincerest apologies for my prolonged absence these last few weeks.  Work has reached a level of insanity I previously thought not possible and while excuses are merely just that, I have been to seven different cities in the past four weeks, TWO of which are on the west coast.  But rest assured I am here today to make it up to you.  And, I knew that to do so would require no ordinary cake or scone or tart.  Oh no, this absence necessitates a baked good of only the highest caliber.  Behold:  The unicorn cupcake of my dreams.

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One of those seven cities was frequented for pleasure, for a much needed girls weekend celebrating with a few of my nearest and dearest friends almost 20 years of friendship, among other major milestones.  Naturally, our schedule was packed full of some of the girly-est activities you can imagine.  It was everything, and I knew I needed to bring my a-game when conjuring up the perfect girls weekend dessert.  Enter said unicorn-inspired cupcakes.  Pink champagne cupcakes (natch) with raspberry-swirled swiss meringue buttercream and some of the most adorable sprinkles in existence.  I must confess, I did break a cardinal rule and utilize food coloring for these cupcakes, purely for impact but…ya’ll just look at them.  Can you blame me??

The amount of squeals that erupted once they were completed was shameless.  But if your girlfriends can’t appreciate a good unicorn cupcake when they see when, I daresay then who can?  I will tell you it really all started with these, and (as you can imagine) the weekend only got better from there.

inspired by Food 52 Pink Champagne Cake.  I halved the below cake recipe, which made 12 cupcakes


For the Pink Champagne Cake
cups cake flour
tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
large egg whites, at room temperature
cup pink Champagne, at room temperature
teaspoons vanilla extract
teaspoons vegetable oil
cups granulated sugar
cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Tiny amount of pink food coloring

For the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
Raspberry Puree-
3/4 cup raspberries
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice


For the Pink Champagne Cake
1. For the cake, place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch layer pans. Shake out the excess flour, and set the pans aside.
2. Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-size bowl, and sift to combine well. Set aside.
3. Place the egg whites, Champagne, vanilla, and oil in a large mixing bowl, and whisk by hand until well blended. Set aside.
4. Place the sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and light, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flour mixture and the egg white mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in the pink coloring. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and place the pans in the oven.
5. Bake until the cakes just pull back from the sides of the pans, 23 to 27 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven, and place them on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of each pan, give each cake a gentle shake, then invert it once and then again onto the rack to cool completely, right side up, 30 minutes.

For the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1. Strain your raspberries through a sieve into a bowl. You will probably ending up with anywhere between 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of raspberry juice. This just keeps the seeds out of your puree.
2. Discard the seeds and add in the lemon juice.  Set aside.
3. Pour about an inch of water into a small saucepan. Place over low heat and pick a bowl that will fit snugly on top of the opening. You don’t want the bowl touching the water at all: you are creating a double boiler. In this case, I used my kitchen aid bowl.
4. When the water has reached a simmer (never let it form into a rolling boil!) place the egg whites and sugar into your bowl. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl, and whisk the mixture constantly until it reaches 160F.
5. Move your bowl to the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk your mixture until stiff peaks form. It should take 10 minutes or more, and you want your bowl to be relatively cool before you add the butter. If the mixture is too warm, your butter will melt.
6. Cut your butter into bite-size pieces, about 1 tablespoon each. With your mixer on low, add one piece of butter at a time, counting for about 10 seconds before you put the next piece of butter in. Pay attention and make sure the butter is combined before you add the next piece. Patience is key! Keep mixing until all the butter is combined in and you are left with a smooth buttercream.
7. Pour the raspberry puree into the buttercream. Stir on low until combined.

Note: I separated out my icing into three separate, equal amounts and stirred in only a portion of the raspberry puree into one of them.  I then used a little blue and a little yellow food coloring on the other two portions.  This video does a great job of showing you how to create swirled frosting.  I used the same technique.


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